Hey Everyone, welcome to the weekend!
How has your week been? No, really, how has it been? Tell me about it in the comments.
For me, it’s been the kind of week where I’m getting some traction and it feels good. Many of you know my family and I made an out-of-state move, job change, etc. at the beginning of the summer.
There’s eight of us but we don’t go in eight different directions at one time, as often as we can help it. We’ve made it an aim to build deep instead of wide. However, when you go through as much upheaval as a big move and the subsequent changes it brings, sometimes all you can do is hang-on while you find the new rhythms that work for everyone.
Larissa Howell, our family’s good friend, and talented mama of five young’n’s of her own, recently asked my thoughts on, “How to live the artist’s life with family and work. How to keep disciplined in the midst of all that?”.
As a dad to six, and not working as a full-time illustrator, I get the quandary and have definitely experienced the conflict.
One of the bigger watershed moments in my own journey, thus far, occurred once I decided — I’M AN ARTIST. If we aren’t decided on that point, that we ARE ARTISTS, our family, friends, and co-workers won’t decide we are either. Additionally, they won’t know how to support us because we are sending mixed messages.
It seems to me this is the norm, although, I have to say; sometimes you meet someone who can see in you what you cannot see in yourself, and if possible, that is a friend to keep. That is the friend who will help you decide, but in the end, it is a decision we must own.
Discipline follows decision. If you are unsure, there’s no reason to be disciplined in it.
Once you are firm there, here’s some tips that have helped me:
-Make sure they are ON BOARD with you being an artist. Talk about it, let them be a part of you making that decision. Best case scenario — make it together.
-Show an interest in THEIR art. Look at it, talk about it, display it. I know that’s not always easy, this summer every single one of my six children created their own board game! Awesome, right? It was, however being honest, it’s a bit challenging to sit down and play every single one and work through their rules, etc. Worth it, but intense.
-Do art TOGETHER. When they’re doing art, sit down with them and do art too. I think this makes a connection for them; I think, that’s where they begin to understand that you love to do what you do as much as they love theirs.
-If your family is NOT on board and maybe even hate that you do art, that’s a family problem, not an art problem. Don’t be afraid of finding out why. Don’t be intimidated from dealing with that head on, it’s the best thing you can do — not only for your family, but believe it or not, for your art as well. Art tells a story, the one underneath — that’s your story.
-Maybe you’re thinking, “my kids aren’t artists or interested in their own art“. I believe every person is born creative, it just works itself out in our own unique ways. Illustrating is a norm, but maybe your kid cooks, gardens, acts, sings, builds, talks, sees. If the creativity is undiscovered, then your opportunity here is really great.
–Got Readers? Read a book on your craft, while they read their fiction, etc? Talk about it a little afterwards.
–Family Outings? This one takes wisdom. There are times to leave the supplies home, but also there are times that it’s perfectly fine to bring them, and maybe even be a conversation starter, a way to spend quality time together, and a way to bond.
–Keep your supplies mobile. If you want to be a family person and an artist, this is important, and completely do-able. Just be ready to create anywhere.
-Since family comes first, work has to take precedence over art, so we can take care of our family. This shouldn’t, however, be seen as a death sentence to art. We have to find (or make) any opportunities around work, that we can, and make the most of it.
I mentioned this example a couple weeks ago, but this small decision is a big part of the progress I’ve made: my job gave everyone three 5 minute smoking breaks — I turned those into “draw breaks” and challenged myself to complete a drawing in that time. I believed I could improve if I used the time I had. I believed it was enough and poured as much of myself into it as I could.
-If allowed, sketch during meetings. For many of us, this doesn’t take away from work or our attentiveness in meetings, it helps. I process and think while I draw (probably not a good idea if you’re one to get enraptured in your thoughts while drawing).
-Again, keep your supplies MOBILE. This has helped me so much. Many of the supplies on my tool list are easily portable for this reason.
–After work, if the t.v. comes on, you can draw and still be around your family.
-Better yet, stick around the table after dinner, pull out your supplies and engage in conversation, or just be around, available, relax and create.
As much as all the things above and many other ideas can hugely help us meet our goals, there is also a time to stretch beyond the 5, 10, and 15 minute art sessions. If you’ve decided you are an artist, you’ll be able to find the time for this, especially with your loved ones help. Schedule it, protect it. As in, leave your phone/email/social media somewhere else. Often we can bring more quality to our responses and interaction if we’ll practice this.
It isn’t selfish. Done in the right balance and looking for the times of day when we are least needed by others, we’ll even set a good example for our kids and give them permission to work hard and find time to focus as well. An example is: rising early if needed (but get good sleep). There’s always going to be trade off but it is worth it. Welcome the challenge, face it, and enjoy.
I never used to be one who followed much of a schedule, mostly because I valued spontaneity. With so many responsibilities, though, my wife and I have found a schedule can be the best means to creating space for spontaneity and freedom from the stress of “when can I focus?”. I know when I can, and tucking the kids in bed at night comes first.
Speaking of night: this post is already too long, so I’ll keep this simple and expound more another time. But, REST. Get enough rest and you’ll accomplish way more with the time that’s left, trust me. You’ll be able to focus, not running on empty. Take care of yourself. Take the lead on this for your family.
EAT WELL, which includes regularly.
EXERCISE, get active.
If we keep our priorities in order and use discipline in small opportunities, we’ll find bigger opportunities open up. I am still learning this, but I hope this resonates in one way or another or spurs new thoughts for you that the world is waiting for you to share. How do you find time for family, work and art?
A little bit more of this week’s art:
Current Good Read:
Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre. This month I’m focusing on composition and clarity. This book has been an excellent help understanding framing and growing my storytelling ability. Marcos is a master. If you want to become better at composition and designing your view, this is the book.
(If you use the link above to purchase, it helps out my family, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for all your support.)
Have a great weekend and keep creating,
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